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Archive from December 2006

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Saturday, December 23, 2006 3:26PM
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3:26 PM - "This isn't Disney. I don't have to be nice to you." (posted by Allen )
Delivered in context, this line always makes me laugh when I hear it at Universal Studios.
Saturday, December 16, 2006 8:53PM
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8:53 PM - Sort, sort, sort... (posted by Allen )
I've made an inital sort through Universal Studios, Isle of Adventure, Epcot and The Magic Kingdom. Almost done...but I wonder how long it will take to upload 10,000 photos...

And speaking of Epcot... Since when are margarittas Norwegian? Seems every pavilion in World Showcase now sells those frozen drinks, theming be damned :)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 6:25PM
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6:25 PM - Back from Orlando. WDW, Sea World, Universal pics soon. (posted by Allen )
I'm back from a 9 day trip to Orlando (the first vacation I've made out there since November 1999). It looks like around 10,000 photos will be added to this site from: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney/MGM Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, Isle of Adventure and Sea World. Whew. It was a very hectic trip and we still didn't get to do everything on the list. Thank goodness crowds were light during the mornings.

To really appreciate how good Disney is you have to visit the non-Disney parks. During our short-day visits to Universal Studios, Isle of Adventure, and Sea World (where they were open from 9-6 or 9-7 only), we found almost all rides to be walk-ons during the day. Only towards the later afternoon (a few hours before closing) was there any kind of line at the more popular or new attractions.

For example: We literally did pretty much every attraction and show at Universal Studios within five hours. We didn't catch the Beetlejuice music show, nor did we get to see the Jimmy Newtron simulator ride, but pretty much everything else we did with no waits. Men in Black shooter dark ride (very very cool). The Mummy coaster (awesome). Back to the Future (one last time; closing soon). Jaws (still neat). Earthquake (much better pre-show from old days). E.T. Special Effects show (very good). Animal Actors show (ho hum). Twister (great). Shrek 4-D (FANTASTIC pre-show!). Terminator. And maybe some other things. All-in-all, a great day.

Similar results at Isle of Adventure (the only thing we missed was the new Sues sky train and we skipped the Dr. Doom tower and the Storm spinner).

Sea World? Well, not much to see/ride there -- but no waits for the coaster, the Atlantis water ride, or the Wild Artic simulator. Not quite enough time in a day to "see" all the exhibits (feeding dolphins, stingrays, etc.) so we returned for a few hours another day. When did Sea World become owned by Busch? The free beer (and overall lower prices) was quite a difference from the Disney parks.

We also did a beer survey (half an hour) and got $100 Shamu bucks (which paid for a so-so meal in the Shark underwater classy restaurant). Just a great diversion -- I had not been to Sea World since the year before Epcot opened. Once Disney started opening new parks, it was rare I ever had time to venture off property.

Anyway, the point is: These other parks were lightly attended. At Sea World, within 30 minutes before opening, there were only 10 guest cars in the parking lot. Universal had several dozen. No mobs of people waiting to get in at either Universal or Sea World. Disney, however, had nice crowds all the days.

Since parks closed early, we started at one park and ended up at Epcot each day practically. One day we did three parks (Isle of Adventure, Sea World, D/MGM). Come to think of it, even with sitting down to eat at Hard Rock Cafe, we still had done pretty much everything at the Universal Parks hours before closing.

So... big difference. But, seeing that Sea World was $49 (kid's price for adult!) and you got in for the duration of your visit (7 days?) -- it was so much cheaper than Disney it's money well spent. Unviersal two-park for $85 was similar. Such a great value compared to Disney prices.

More on this later. Meanwhile, time to copy pictures, and spend days sorting...
Friday, December 1, 2006 7:06AM
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7:06 AM - Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation guide (posted by Allen )
Just a quick note. Recently, I received a copy of "The Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation" paperback book by Steven M. Barret. (This is the guy who also wrote "Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets.") So far, I have only skimmed through this 256 page book but it looks like something every casual or first time WDW visitor should have a copy of.

I have received many e-mails over the past 10 years from people who talk about how little they actually did on their Disney World vacation. This is usually due to poor planning and lack of experience with such a massive resort. I personally consider myself an advanced tourist, monitoring fan news pages about the resorts to keep plugged in with what's going on (construction updates, soft openings, etc.). Most "normal" people just figure out travel plans and go with only a general idea of their goals.

This book breaks down a pretty complete WDW vacatation from common guidelines (what to park: bring sunscreen and wear comfortable broken-in shows. duh, but so many don't realize this!) It gives a brief overview of each of the four Disney World parks, as well as the resorts and non-theme park activities. It also gives an overview of non-Disney stuff in the area (including hotel options, other theme parks, etc.) It's a very handy guide.

The best part is probably the simple touring plans. Provided are one-day (and two day) step-by-step guides for touring each of the four parks (for people like me who stay off site and show up at opening, or people staying at a Disney hotel who can get in earlier on "Extra Magic Hours" mornings). Very simple -- go here, do this, go here, do this, go here, get a FastPass, go here, do this, have lunch, do this, etc. I have no idea how well they work since they are quite different from how I personally "attack" the parks, but ... for someone new to the parks or someone who's been but gets frustrated because they don't get to see as much as they needed to justify the massive expense, these lists probably would greatly improve the quality of a visit.

As I get time to go through the book, I'll post some more thoughts.
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